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INÊS MARTO

INÊS MARTO

A mermaid at heart

Wednesday night. One like many others. Me going through some La Cage aux Folles videos while trying to write some due projects. When a dear friend sends me a music video. Which leads to a performance video of Pink's "Try". Chat rolls on and we get to talking about dance and body expression.
As weird as it may seem, able-bodies (for the lack of a better term) utterly fascinate me.
Having CP since, well, ever, I always wondered how does it feel to simply command your body and have it do what you intend to without any unpredictabilty. Maybe that's why dance fascinates me so much.
We, the ones with cerebral palsy, are ironically control freaks. Because we have to be. We have to study our steps, predict our movements, develop our strategies, and get to bullet proof level with a handfull of alternative plans in case it all fails, because our body suddenly decides what we have done 100 times won't work today.
So I always wondered how liberating it must feel not having to make a detailed draft of mostly everything in order to survive. I feel we are indeed always in survival mode.
Personally, it would be a major game change to have a cerebral palsy simulator for my friends to try, because it is sometimes impossible to put into words our physical way of existing. CP bodies, to different degrees of course since it varies so much individually, are always under some kind of tension. Specially spastics like me.
I've recently discovered Gregg Mozgala, an actor with CP, who was in a very interesting (to say the least) project called Enter the Faun, in which the coreographer Tamar Rogoff used shaking and body scripting, two techniques she developed for her dancers. The first one to release trapped body tension, and the second one to promote body awareness by having movement translated into a word script. And once applied to a CP body it had absolutely outstanding results. Allowing Gregg to move like never before, and allowing him to explore himself to physical dephts he had never previously been able to. (This video illustrates the techniques and results very well).
All this got my head spinning around the body awareness theme.
I stopped physical therapy by the age of 15. Having started it before I was 1 year old. Mainly because I wanted to live. Mainly because I was tired of pain. There was not much more to do. Maybe a new way of stretching, maybe holding a cube instead of a ball while taking steps... maybe two or three more things that in the long run changed virtually nothing. I had come a long way and was happy with it. The rest was about maintenance. And above all the rest was about inventing my own ways to have my body cope with me to achieve what I want - and this is something no therapy ever taught me: creativity and persistance. Which was what I felt I needed the most, way more than painful routines.
I hadn't yet learned what ableism was, though - the disability being viewed as something to be corrected, if possible through medical intervention -  And how I disagreed with it. To me, I was just trying to live my way. It wasn't untill recently, very recently indeed, that I developed my own opinion about CP and how I'd rather learn it and play through it instead of attempting to erase it (as stated in this article).
But, all this being said, I still feel a lack of self-exploration. Exactly for that matter, in order to be able to learn CP's padrons and play through them, I must explore it deeper, I must test its limits. And I have yet to find a method of doing so (the closest to date being Tamar's approach, which I didn't find a way to do in Portugal any time soon)... or have I?
I've also recently stumbled upon Leandrinha Du Art, a completely amazing being, a trans rights activist, artist, youtuber and icon who also happens to ride wheels. And I discovered a wonderful text on her blog, in which she views herself as a mermaid.
And all this came together to finally hit me. Maybe it wasn't random, me as a toddler wanting to be a mermaid. Maybe it wasn't random sitting there by the sea waiting for my fins to grow and set me free. Maybe it wasn't random that I discovered my safe haven and my ex libris both being the ocean, and the times when I am alone swimming being the ones when I get the best artistic ideas, either. I do have a way to explore myself and set me free, and it is by becoming what I am in my core: a mermaid. My first school performance was even Part of Your World, when I was 3, for Heaven's sake, this was meant to be.
I have a unique freedom and sensibility when in the water. And it is undeniable that it allows me to explore myself in ways that I could never otherwise. Not only can I walk independently, but I  have even discovered I am able to jump, how cool is that? Maybe it wasn't random either that my wildest dreams once were to dance in a giant aquarium on stage...
Maybe I am a mermaid born with the wrong body, and all I have to do is just keep swimming my way and refuse to sink!

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